Today we’d like to introduce you to Antoine Didienne.
Antoine, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I am a French expat and I’ve lived outside of France for over half my life. The reason I bring this up is because I have developed a deep interest in understanding and participating in other people’s cultures for a very long time now and it has influenced greatly in finding my way into wedding and family documentary photography.
I came in contact with photography when I had to take photos of products for a small e-commerce company I founded in 2012. Shortly after that, I took a beginner class to understand how to use the camera properly for my work. At that point, it was just a tool to do a job but the first time I used the camera to say something with it, I felt something unlock inside of me and suddenly understood how the medium could tell awesome everyday stories. I remember having an audible “a-ha!” and feel genuine excitement about the possibilities the medium held. After stepping away from the e-commerce company because of family obligations among other things, I had to rethink my future and taking my photography to the next level and going pro was staring me right in the face. I jumped in before I could change my mind.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I really consider my role to be equal parts photographer/story teller. Growing up as an only child in semi-rural France, I read a lot of books and comics and watched a lot of TV and movies in my free time. Great stories have always had a hold on my imagination and I looked for many role models in them. I particularly loved the adventures of Tintin the reporter, a world traveler, a seeker of truth. All the stories I consumed were always about helping me understand my “self”, about figuring out who I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s the same today. I am a very curious person and I photograph people because my camera is an extension of me and how I seek to understand my own humanity by understanding others.
Today, I am a family and wedding documentary photographer because the stories of our weddings and our lives with kids are worth telling. As a story teller, I want to give photos that reflect who the families and couples I work with are, so I took the decision very early on that I would not pose people and use flashes as little as possible, even during the weddings I photograph. I want to make photos that tell me something about who the people in the picture are and —to me— traditional posed portraits have a harder time doing it; that’s why most of my work are candids. Years down the line, I want my photos to serve as a heirloom for kids to get to know their parents the way they really were on their wedding day. I work very hard on composing my photos to tell the story I see unfolding before me but I’ll say this: It is deceptively hard to be at the right place at the right moment and make a beautiful picture in the span of a second before it is gone.
Because of my focus on story telling, I now include a photo film of the day with my couples along with an online gallery they can share with the people they love. It helps tremendously telling the story of the family I spent the day with. I also strongly encourage my couples and families to create a printed album of our time together to fully give context to their experience. It makes it more real and more contextualized.
Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
It has never been a better time to be a photographer. Today, I can do things with my camera and my photos that were impossible for decades and that’s great for creativity. But, it is also true that being a professional photographer is not for the faint of heart. Because of the democratization of photography through cell phones and extremely capable entry level cameras, we seem to have lost the importance of meaning when making a photo compared to taking snapshots. There are just too many of them. But again, that just spurs me forward to make better art and be better at my craft. People hire me because I am me, not only because I can take a good picture. Personally, I am very thankful to be a photographer. I get to tell amazing stories that happen around me.
I like to volunteer and I like to work on personal photography projects so I often combine both to help my creativity and to unsettle me. Routine is really the enemy of creativity. I also strongly encourage photographers to become part of their local photography association; PPSDC (ppsdc.com
) is a prime example that comes to mind. Having a community of like minded individuals focused on the same passion is an amazing thing and I promise it will help propel your craft into its next phase. I also would love to see San Diego promote local artists and open more public arts gallery where artists can blow minds and inspire people. We can all do with a little bit more art in our lives.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I am at 147Photos everywhere on social media but my website 147photos.com is really the best place to get a feeling for my work. There, you will see my wedding and family documentary work as well as have access to my blog and my personal social documentary projects that I am hoping to turn into books in the future.
All photos taken by Antoine Didienne of 147Photos.
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